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Robert Tutman

Cameraman and producer Robert Tutman was born on October 15, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tutman initially worked as a still photographer until 1968, when he was hired as a cameraman for NBC’s WBAL-TV in Baltimore. In 1970, Tutman moved to CBS Network News in Chicago, Illinois, becoming the company’s first African American cameraman. For the next twenty-five years, Tutman covered national and international news stories for CBS. He also taught as an associate professor at Columbia University in 1973 through the Michelle Clark Minority Fellowship.

From 1995 to 1999, Tutman served as a senior cameraman for Chicago’s WBBM-TV, where he worked on breaking news stories, from hard news to feature pieces, documentaries, special projects and long format programs. In 1996, Tutman established his own production company, and, from 1999 to 2001 he produced fifty half-hour programs and twelve three-hour specials for the Chicago Public Schools. He went on to serve as a producer for Monument City Films in Baltimore from 2001 to 2002; and, in 2003, became a producer for WYCC-TV, a PBS station based in Chicago. Tutman later worked as director of photography for The Africa Channel and as a producer at Chicago Film Works. His film credits include The Providence Effect and Common Enemy.

Tutman’s honors include Emmy Award nominations as well as the Gold Camera Award, which he received during the 1996 Chicago Industrial Film Festival for his work on Common Enemy. He has also served as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Robert Tutman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.261

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2014

Last Name

Tutman

Maker Category
Schools

Coleridge Taylor Elementary School

P.S. 111, Frances Ellen Harper Elementary School

Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts

Baltimore City College

Coppin State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

TUT01

Favorite Season

Any Time I'm Alive

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Stuck On Stupid.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/15/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Photojournalist and producer Robert Tutman (1946 - ) was the first African American cameraman hired by CBS News, where he served from 1970 to 1999.

Employment

WBAL-TV

CBS Network News

WBBM-TV

Monument City Films

Robert Tutman Productions

WYCC-TV

The Africa Channel

Chicago Film Works

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Tutman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his mother's upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman talks about his brother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman describes his earliest memory of school

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman remembers his neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman talks about the development of social policies

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman recalls his early frustrations with school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman remembers learning about Frances Watkins Harper

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman describes his experiences as a Boy Scout

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes how he became interested in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers his first professional photography lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers his high school photography club

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman talks about Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman recalls his introduction to the photography community

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman remembers working at a Chinese restaurant

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman recalls his decision to attend Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman talks about his decision to complete two extra years of high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman remembers his family's reaction to his delayed high school graduation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman recalls his decision to leave college and work in a steel mill

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about the African American community in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman recalls his start as a professional cameraman

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman recalls the opportunities for black reporters during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers covering the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers his hiring as a cameraman for CBS News

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman remembers covering the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman describes Emperor Hirohito's visit to the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman remembers meeting Nelson Mandela

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman recalls his conversation with Rosa Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his colleagues at CBS News

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman talks about his friendship with Ed Bradley

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about the private personalities of television reporters

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers the election of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman recalls covering Walter Mondale's vice presidential campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman describes his interviews with Walter Mondale

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman remembers Walter Mondale's intervention on behalf of his grandmother

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his friendship with Walter Mondale

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman describes his involvement with the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman describes his involvement with the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about DeWayne Wickham

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman remembers leaving the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about the physical demands of newsreel videography

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the changes in management at CBS News

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers being captured while reporting overseas

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman talks about the dangers of working as a news cameraman

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman talks about challenging the prejudice of white reporters

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his passion for newsreel videography

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman describes his travel schedule as a cameraman

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman talks about balancing his career and personal life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman talks about minimizing his exposure to danger

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman describes the risks of covering events like September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman talks about his involvement in education

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes his work on feature and documentary films

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers his awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman describes his work with The Africa Channel

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman remembers joining Chicago Film Works

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the changes in video technology

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman talks about his camera preferences

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his relationship with DeWayne Wickham

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman shares his concerns for the future of black journalism

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the importance of practice

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Robert Tutman describes how he became interested in photography
Robert Tutman remembers being captured while reporting overseas
Transcript
Now did you have any particular talents you were cultivating in those days? Were you--were you artistic then?$$Yeah--a photographer, that's the only thing I wanted to do.$$Okay, I mean in, in middle school [Booker T. Washington Junior High School; Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts, Baltimore, Maryland]? I mean, I mean when did photography? I know, I know you did, did you have a camera (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I got hooked on photography, I got hooked on photography in 1954, when I was eight years old.$$Okay.$$And the reason that I got hooked on photography is my cousin Reggie [ph.] was a con man and he's also my best friend at the time but he was older than me and he knew all of these tricks that we did not know. I learned how to count because my cousin Reggie hustled me out of a dime, he came up to me and he showed me a nickel and I had a dime and he said, "Look, I'll trade you the big one for the little one," and so I traded him a dime for a nickel and I came back in the house and I showed my grandfather [Tutman's maternal grandfather, Claude Allen] my nickel, he said, said, "Buck where did you get that from?" I said, "I got this from Reggie." He said, "Well how how'd you get this from Reggie?" I said, "We traded it." He said, "Minnie [Tutman's maternal grandmother, Minnie Magee Allen], the boy can't count," and the next thing I knew I was sitting down learning how to count money.$$So, in terms of the can- photography (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Photography?$$Yeah, how did Reggie--?$$Do you know what sun pictures are by any chance?$$Some pictures?$$Sun, S-U-N.$$Sun, oh--$$Sun pictures.$$--with a pinhole camera?$$No. Sun--well that is another way of sun pictures, but what they used to sale was a little pack of paper than had photosensitive paper in it and negatives. And they would cut black and white negatives out of 35mm movie film, old movie film that they didn't use and stick this in a little package and they'd sell this for a dime. And you'd take this little pack of paper and you take this negative and put it on this pack of paper and sit it out in the sun and you'd make a picture, sun picture. Well, my cousin Reggie knew about this because he was older and so, he said to us, "You give me a dime," back to the dime again, "and I'll show you a magic trick." I said, "Okay," so we go down in the basement he's got this thing setup in the basement and he's got these three trays of magic water setup in the basement and he's got a light and he's got some magic paper and he said, "Now come here, give me your money," everybody give him, everybody gives their money out to Reggie, he said, "Now give me your hand," so he'd put your hand on this piece of magic paper and he'd turn the light on and turn the light off real quick and then he said some magic words over the pap- (makes sound), I don't know what he said, magic. And now you're looking at this paper in the dark, he says, "Now," he says this magic over the water and takes the paper and he sticks it in the water and, and the hand comes up, and I'm, man that was it, done, I was hooked, that's it, I had it, that's what I want to do, magic. So I go back and I try it and it don't work, I take a piece of paper and it just, it, man I said the same words, I did--don't work, he said, "I'm not gone show you my trick." And what had happened is, my uncle Milton [Milton Allen], which was my mother's [Theresa Allen Tutman] brother was a professional photographer and Reggie had found a box of his photo paper back in the basement and Reggie had gone to the store, he got thirty-five cents somewhere and what was called a tri-chem pack, which were three chemicals for thirty-five cents which were photo chemicals 'cause that's how you used to buy chemicals back in the '50s [1950s], you just buy a pack of chemicals, go and mix them up, print a picture--most people that were in photography did their own work. You had your own dar- darkroom, you printed your own pictures, you developed your own negatives, and so that's what he did. And, it was magic and I just, I wanted to take pictures after that so I had a little Brownie Hawkeye and I ran around shooting pictures every chance I could get. That's all I wanted to do was take pictures. I spent hours in the darkroom, hou- I mean every day I was in the darkroom. That's just what I did: I didn't care about school, I didn't care about anything; I just wanted to be in the darkroom taking pictues (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So this is from age eight?$$Oh yeah.$$Okay.$$Magic.$They do it, they did--we had a guy get captured overseas in Iraq, Iran, somewhere, I don't know where it was, might have been in South America, I just forgot where it was and they were being held prisoner and CBS network television hired a team of mercenaries to go in and get this guy out and they went in shooting and got this guy out who was a reporter that was being held prisoner. And when I heard about it, I had just come on board with the company and I got indignant, "How dare you go into a foreign country and, and (unclear) you shouldn't do any, that you don't have any right to do any--wha- what? Are you people--who do you think?" And a guy turns to me, "Hey, if you got captured, we'd come and get your black ass too, so what do you have to say about that?" "Hey man thanks, appreciate it." So, we never had any fear of getting in trouble, we never had any fear of anything happening because we knew that the company would bail us out.$$Now did, did you cover a story at any time, you know, whether it be in the Middle East or Asia, or Central or South--South America, or Africa where you thought you were going to get kidnapped?$$Oh got kidnapped, got captured.$$Okay.$$Yeah, oh sure, that's happened before. I got captured in Cairo [Egypt] when Ansar--Anwar Sadat got killed and when Anwar Sadat got killed he--we went to cover his funeral, so I'm out, I'm taking pictures and I walk out and I'm taking pictures and this guy said, "We told you not to take--." They grabbed us, took the camera, took all our gear, they're holding us--man, I'm like, (makes sound), and now, you know, now they holding us, shit, nobody knows where we are, we don't have any credentials, we don't have any passports, they're holding us, like, shit. So, guy comes in, "Okay, I told you not to take pictures so you're going to be here." "Wait a minute, you didn't tell me anything." "Yes, I did." I said, "Have you ever met a black American before?" He's like, "Well no." I said, "Then if you've never met a black American before, I'm a black American, how could you have told me anything?" The guy was like, "Where are you from?" I'm like, "I'm from Chicago [Illinois]." "Chicago?" He said, "This is--Al Capone," he says, "Al Capone is a friend of mine." I said, "Well he's a friend of mine too." He said, "Man this is friends here, my friend here," and all of a sudden, he and I and Al Capone became friends and he let us go. I said, "Well can I get my camera?" "Yeah, take your camera man that's, we're friends," so because we fr- all friends with Al Capone, I got to go. Now I'm in Nicaragua and we get captured in Nicaragua, so we get captured in Nicaragua, they're holding us and then they're getting ready to let us go, right?$$Now you're being held by the Contras or the Sandinistas [Sandinista National Liberation Front] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Sandinista got us.$$Okay.$$So the Sandis got us and now they going to let us go, they ain't keep us but for two, three days that's all, not a long time. So the guy says, "Okay, strip, take your clothes off." I said, "Take your clothes off? Man, I'm not taking my clothes off." Said, "You got, man it's like--we need everything, we need shoes, we need clothes, we need socks, we need everything you've got and you're going back to your hotel but we gotta have your--." It's about eight of us they had, and, "Strip naked and get outta here." I'm like, "Man, you cannot, you cannot take my clothes, now what--," I said, "let me explain something to you man, six white guys, black guy, if we walk out the jungle naked, the only person's picture that's going to be on the front of Newsweek magazine is me, they're not going to put the naked white guys, they going to put the naked black guy with the camera." The guy looked at me, he looked at them, and he looked at me and we come walking out the jungle, I got all my shit, and walking with six naked white boys (laughter).$$What a story, that's--so now, wa- those the only two times that you got--?$$Those are the only two times that I got captured by people that I didn't think were going to let me go.$$$$Okay, okay but it's, it's, it's then it's a usual thing to be detained or, or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh man, you get detained--I've been detained by all the ti- I was in Wounded Knee [South Dakota] when they took over the post office at Wounded Knee, the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] grabs us sneaking out and they hold us and questioning you and stuff, "Man go away," you know, "free press," you know, they keep you for two hours, cops will hold you, happens all the time, you don't ev- you know, like they're gonna let you go, I mean like, you're not doing anything, you're not trying to hurt anybody, you know, free speech means a lot to members of the press sometimes. Well used to twenty years ago, I don't know what it's doing now.